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Specialty Food Magazine

The only magazine in the trade dedicated to food and beverage, Specialty Food Magazine is published four times a year, with actionable news, trends, spotlights on retailer and producers, and much more in every issue. To view a digital version of the publication, launch the Digital Edition here.

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New Product Watch: Spring 2014

New Product Watch: Spring 2014

La Tourangelle has debuted chemical-free spray oils, featuring the brand’s popular nut oils. The Spray Oil Series will be available in walnut, organic olive, avocado, grapeseed, Sun Coco (sunflower and coconut oil), and Thai Wok. … Olli Salumeria has introduced Salamini (pictured above), bite-size, ready-to-eat salami morsels. Currently available in four varieties—pepperoni, Calabrese, Norcino, and Napoli—the Salamini are available in 3-ounce packages. … New “Farm-to-Bag” pre-popped popcorn demonstrates Quinn Popcorn’s commitment to supply-chain transparency. A unique batch number on each bag lets consumers look up ingredient origins online at quinnpopcorn.com. … Indianlife Foods has launched a line of all-natural vegan chips, in samosa and masala flavors. The chips are low in sodium and preservative-free. … Living Tree Community Foods will begin producing organic pumpkin seed oil, made from Oregon-grown pumpkin seeds. … Wholesome Cup4Cup is a new, nutrient-dense version of the gluten-free flour brand created by Lena Kwak and Thomas Keller. The dairy-free, non-GMO product contains whole grains and omega fatty acids, plus it’s good source of fiber.—E.M.

More Trends & Happenings from the Spring 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Ethical Bread

Specialty food consumers have become particular about the ethical treatment of animals by checking the labels of their milk and eggs, but what about products that contain eggs and dairy? Baked goods producer Pastry Smart has brought attention to this conundrum by becoming the first, and thus far only, bakery to earn the American Humane Certified stamp. Humane Heartland, which regulates the certification for farmers and value-added producers alike, conducted a study of consumers that found 89 percent feel animal welfare is important to the product and 74 percent are willing to pay more for that product.—E.M.

More Trends & Happenings from the Spring 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Diverting: Let the Seller Beware

Diverting: Let the Seller Beware

Imagine you are a specialty food producer. You’ve got a handle on your cost of goods and your cost of sales. You’ve factored distributor margins into your pricing, as well as the monies necessary to stimulate movement at retail. You’ve got a strong customer base, a clear channel strategy, and a solvent business.

Now imagine that you are approached by a new customer who wants to purchase in truckload quantities for export—or maybe for sales to a nontraditional domestic channel. Because the customer is buying in volume, picking up the product, and handling all logistics and marketing expenses, he wants to negotiate a dead-net price from you. He’s even willing to prepay.

You waver, wondering if you are making a mistake lowering your price. The customer is quick to note that he can always cut a deal with your direct competitor, instead. As you look at your revenues, you realize that this transaction will help you beat your best quarter ever—so you take the deal. You get paid and the new customer picks up the product.

A few weeks later, your product pops up in store types that you have consistently avoided, and on ... Continue Reading

New Openings: Spring 2014

Lake Champlain Chocolates has launched a cafe-retail concept in its home base of Burlington, Vt., called South End Kitchen. The space also includes an education center offering classes to the community. … Lund Food Holdings is opening a new store concept in Minnesota named Lunds and Byerly’s Kitchen, which will feature freshly prepared foods and beverages and a tailored selection of groceries. … High-end Chinese tea shop Tea Drunk opened its doors in New York City, offering tea exclusively from China, along with a program of tea classes. … Mom’s Organic Market debuted in Pennsylvania, with a new location in Bryn Mawr. … A hobby brewer opened D.I.Y. BrewHouse in Pontiac, S.C., selling do-it-yourself kits to make beer, wine, and cheese. … New Jersey’s Carlo’s Bake Shop, of “Cake Boss” fame, is looking to expand the bakery to the Middle East with multiple locations. … Rocky Mountain Organics, a mercantile store featuring organic and local food along with natural health and beauty products, has opened in Wallace, Idaho .… Sugar High, a new dessert shop in Wasilla, Alaska, offers 38 varieties of gourmet cupcakes, such as chocolate maple bacon and lemon drop. … Online retailer Nonnie Waller’s Traditional Southern is ... Continue Reading

Candy Chic

Candy Chic

In just two short years, Torie & Howard Hard Candy has amassed thousands of customers, been lauded in major publications, and is available at more than 3,500 retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Whole Foods Market, smaller specialty stores, and even hotels, casinos, and college cafeterias.

By Susan Segrest

Despite its rapid growth, this organic candy company was no overnight success. Torie & Howard launched at the 2012 Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco featuring the same line of creative flavors the company still has today. The producer created instant buzz with a profile in The Washington Post and a deal with UNFI. But according to co-founder Torie Burke, the secret to the company’s success is in all that they did before launch.


Deciding to Start a Candy Business


Burke, a successful design color consultant, and Howard Slatkin, an interior designer and founder of the home fragrance line Slatkin & Co., were longtime friends and frequent collaborators before starting Torie & Howard. The spark to create a food business came after both had dealt with significant health challenges—Slatkin had been battling weight issues and lost 100 pounds and Burke was diagnosed as gluten-intolerant after years of illness and tests. Both ... Continue Reading

Nuts & Salty Snacks

Nuts & Salty Snacks

Old standbys like Marcona almonds, tortilla chips, and honey mustard pretzels are holding their own against popular popcorn, jerky, and pork rinds.

compiled by Nicole Potenza Denis

Pam Gabriel, Sweet Gourmet, Tyler, TX

  • Buddy Squirrel Cheddar Cheezzzy Cheese Corn
  • Sweet Gourmet Cheddar Sesame Sticks
  • Sweet Gourmet Chocolate Covered Almonds
  • Sweet Gourmet Wasabi-Soy Cashews
  • Xochitl Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

Larry Landburg, Wynn’s Market, Naples, FL

  • Garden of Eatin’ Key Lime Jalapeño Tortilla Chips
  • Tweeds Tortilla Chips in Flax Seed & Sesame Seed
  • Unique Pretzel Bakery Splits
  • Wedding Time Popcorn
  • Whitley’s Peanut Factory Honey Cinnamon Almonds

Brett Ottolenghi, Artisanal Foods, Las Vegas, NV

  • Bacon’s Heir Pork Clouds
  • The Billy Goat Chip Company Kicker Chips
  • King’s County Jerky Co. Grass-Fed Beef Jerky
  • Matiz Marcona Almonds
  • Popped Dirty Vegas Popcorn

Margaret Seeley Furniss, Caviar & Bananas, Charleston, SC

  • Callie’s Charleston Biscuits Cheese Crisps
  • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Sandwiches in Salty Caramel with Smoked Almonds
  • MV’s Best Virginia Cocktail Toffee Peanuts
  • Primal Beef Jerky Just Beef Jerky
  • Quinn Microwave Popcorn in Butter & Sea Salt

Sue Bicksler Taub, Holbrook Cottage, Briarcliff Manor, NY

  • Blue Crab Bay Surf Doggies Peanuts
  • Bobby Sue’s Nuts
  • Feridies Chocolate Covered Peanuts
  • Robert Rothschild ... Continue Reading

A Trio of Trending Veggies

A Trio of Trending Veggies

Prepared foods customers intrigued by dishes they read about, taste in fashionable restaurants, or discover on cooking shows often look for them in your cases.

By Joanna Pruess

Among the vegetables currently getting star treatment, many have been around for eons but are now being prepared by savvy chefs in ways that appeal to contemporary ideas of food and health. These three recipes offer inspiration for presenting rising stars in the vegetable world—cauliflower, Swiss chard, and seaweed—in new ways that will appeal to a variety of consumers.

Try the Recipes:


Joanna Pruess is a regular contributor to Specialty Food Magazine.

Creamy Cauliflower-Cashew-Coconut Soup

Creamy Cauliflower-Cashew-Coconut Soup

Whether as a star player or supporting second fiddle, cauliflower has more to offer than a crudité for dips or baked in a cheesy sauce. Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna oven-roasts garam masala–seasoned, thickly sliced center cuts of the vegetable into what he calls “Tree of Life” steaks at Junoon, a New York City restaurant. Khanna says that like its name, the evocative shape symbolizes the spiritual connection of all aspects of life.

For customers seeking dairy-free options, cauliflower florets baked with curry powder, cumin, onions, and garlic can be pureed with softened raw cashews and coconut milk. The result is a satisfyingly creamy, rich soup without dietary worries. Garnish simply with cilantro. Or, if desired, add toasted unsweetened coconut pieces.

See other related recipes in A Trio of Trending Veggies

Yield: 6 cups
Prep time: about 50 minutes
Shelf life: at least 1 week refrigerated

Ingredients

⅔ cup (3 ounces) raw cashews
4 cups (about 14 ounces) small cauliflower florets
⅔ cup chopped onion
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 teaspoons ground curry powder, hot or mild according to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups vegetable stock
1½ cups canned coconut milk
1 ... Continue Reading

Swiss Chard, Shiitake, and Goat Cheese Tacos

Swiss Chard, Shiitake, and Goat Cheese Tacos

If kale was yesterday’s vegetable darling, red Swiss chard—with its Mediterranean, not Swiss, origins—has found new favor today. One obvious reason is the leafy green is a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with calcium, potassium, vitamins A, E, and K, and phytonutrients like beta-carotene and lutein.

Another reason is that people who find dark greens, like kale, too assertive-tasting, find red Swiss chard more appealing. Compared with chard with green or yellow leaves or veins, the deep red–veined variety has a slightly earthier taste. It stands up nicely to full flavored ingredients, like shiitake mushrooms and goat cheese in a vegetarian taco filling, but never overwhelms them. When sauteing or stir-frying red chard, the leaves are also sturdy enough to retain their integrity.

In recipes where the red stems and ribs are pared off, those trimmings can be used to add color, flavor, and texture to a stir-fry with peppers and onions, a creamy gratin, or sauteed in olive oil and garlic as a side dish.

This recipe was inspired by a taco prepared by Dos Caminos’ executive chef Ivy Stark. Drizzled with spicy Mexican cream, the tacos can be served at room temperature or heated in a ... Continue Reading

Nori-Sesame Crusted Chicken Thigh

Nori-Sesame Crusted Chicken Thigh

The sea is such an enormous source of nutrient-rich macro algae, with countless culinary and medicinal benefits, they can no longer be ignored. The most common seaweeds—a generic catchall term—are nori (dried red algae often found in sheets), hijiki (a brown sea vegetable), and arame (dried kelp).

Most Americans think of seaweed only as sushi wrappers or sometimes an ingredient in miso soup. Yet many already eat seaweed in crunchy bar snacks and veggie chips seasoned with the powdered form. Seaweed salads are also increasingly served as a vegetable side dish, although they are not actually plants. In the drive to add that unique, indefinable umami factor to dishes, such as roasted chicken thighs with a nori and sesame crust or countless pasta dishes, seaweed may be a hidden treasure. Seaweed in ice cream, puddings, and cakes may be next.

Finely chopped nori and sesame seeds form the tasty coating for these flavorful marinated chicken thighs served with an Asian dipping sauce.

See other related recipes in A Trio of Trending Veggies

Yield: 6 thighs
Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes, plus 3 to 4 hours marinating and 45 minutes baking
Shelf life: 2 to 3 days

Ingredients ... Continue Reading

The Culture Club

The Culture Club

As the yogurt craze continues, Greek style stands strong, but new innovations are emerging as consumers seek more purity, variety, and convenience.

By Dina Cheney

Forget Greek Week. It’s Greek Years in the yogurt aisle, as the thick style continues its reign as the preeminent yogurt trend. According to wholesale data from United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) in a Packaged Facts report, “The Yogurt Market and Yogurt Innovation,” for the three months ending January 1, 2013, Greek yogurt accounted for a whopping 38.41 percent of sales.

It’s easy to understand why. Consumers find Greek yogurt both healthful and satisfying, thanks to its high protein content and thick creamy texture, even in fat-free varieties. This traditionally results from straining out the whey; imitations may contain powdered milk protein, starches, and gums.

Its popularity has spawned a flurry of new product introductions, with yogurt brands launching Greek-style lines and other brands adding Greek yogurt to their recipes. “Greek brought people into the yogurt category,” says Amy Levine, director of marketing programs at Cabot Creamery. “Companies are putting Greek yogurt into everything because it is a buzzword. It has a health halo around it and is here to stay.”

Adds ... Continue Reading

Sheep’s Milk: A New American Cheese

Sheep’s Milk: A New American Cheese

For a category that was all but nonexistent 20 years ago, sheep’s milk cheeses have come a long way. Despite limited availability and high prices, a willing customer base makes this category a must-have.

By Janet Fletcher

Anyone who becomes a cheese lover becomes a sheep’s milk cheese lover,” claims Amy Thompson, cheesemonger for Lucy’s Whey in New York City. A generalization, to be sure, but few in the specialty cheese world would dispute it. Ask a cheese professional about his or her favorites, and sheep’s milk wheels—from Italy’s aromatic pecorinos to France’s Basque beauties—often head the list.

Now, finally, the U.S. has some of its own worthy sheep cheeses to add to the mix, and merchants report robust demand for them. As the domestic supply of sheep’s milk grows, more cheeses will surely debut, helping populate a category that 20 years ago hardly existed.

Slow Start

When the Atlas of American Artisan Cheeses was published in 2007, the compendium listed only 40 sheep cheese producers. Five years later, the number had climbed to 60, says Jeff Roberts, the book’s author. Amish farmers in the Midwest, Pennsylvania, and New ... Continue Reading

Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams

While still in its early stages, Blue Marble Ice Cream took its concept internationally, helping to create an ice cream shop in Rwanda that provides jobs for local women and books, toys, and treats for children.

By Colleen Curtis

An ice cream shop in the tiny African country of Rwanda has its roots across the globe in one of the hippest neighborhoods in America. Both Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Blue Marble and Butare, Rwanda’s Inzozi Nziza (which translates to “sweet dreams”) use ingredients sourced locally in their respective regions, and both exist thanks to founder Alexis Miesen’s love of high-quality ice cream and a desire to help those in need.

Getting Started… Miesen, a New Yorker working in international development, was fascinated by the intersection of private sector and public good and decided to create a business with giving back as part of its DNA. Her business choice was inspired by a personal need: “I love, love, love ice cream,” Miesen declares. She had moved to Brooklyn in 2006, years before the borough became an artisanal mecca.

“I used to live in Boston, which has a fantastic tradition of mom-and-pop, made-in-house ice cream shops. I was woeful about ... Continue Reading

A&B American Style

A&B American Style

How Can We Break Into Foodservice?

Arial Fliman and Brian Ballan, the “A” and “B” of A&B American Style, grew up together in New Jersey. Fliman became a lawyer, and Ballan a banker, but both were increasingly drawn to the world of food.


In 2010, Fliman began experimenting with creating condiments inspired by his travels through Asia and South America. Around the same time, Ballan left his corporate job to become a line cook at Buddakan in New York. When Ballan tried Fliman's homemade creations he was "blown away by the flavor," says Ballan. "I'd never found a spicy condiment that brought out the natural flavors of chiles in this way."

The Startup

A&B American Style
abamerican.com
Owners: Brian Ballan and Arial Fliman
Products: Pepper Sauce with more varieties to come
Founded: 2010; first product sold in 2012
Location: New York, NY
No. of employees: 2


They created A&B American Style that same year and launched their Pepper Sauce in 2012, selling the first bottles to the public at New Amsterdam Market in New York City. The pair quickly attracted media attention as food blog Serious Eats named A&B Amercian Style among its ... Continue Reading

Emerging Cuisines

Emerging Cuisines

Ethnic dishes from the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, and Korea are among new taste experiences driving menu and product trends.

By Julie Besonen, Anneliese Klainbaum, and Denise Purcell

In a nation packed with representation from cultures across the globe, exposure to—and interest in—ethnic foods is ever growing. In fact, nearly half of American consumers say they’re willing to spend more on authentic ethnic/international foods, according to “Ethnic Foods,” a recent report from Mintel International.

Among up-and-coming taste interests, restaurant consulting firm Baum + Whiteman points to new regions in familiar territories. Its recent report on 2014 food and beverage trends for restaurants and hotel dining notes, “Forget Spain and Greece … the south side of the Mediterranean and the Levant are where new tastes and dishes are coming from: Turkey, Israel, Morocco, Iraq, and Iran.”

The report cites Turkish street food, in particular, as a source of inspiration for chefs, and notes that the foods of Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, and Iraq are being introduced to other cultures, as families fleeing turmoil bring their culinary traditions to other parts of the region and world.

Southeast Asian cuisine, such as Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, Philippine, and Vietnamese, was cited as increasingly trendy ... Continue Reading

Korea: Beyond the Basics

Korea: Beyond the Basics

Kimchi and Korean barbecue are the ambassadors of this nation’s bold cuisine, which holds plenty more for adventurous Americans to discover.

By Anneliese Klainbaum

Endless bowls of salads and pickled slaws, thinly sliced barbecued meats, scallion pancakes, perfectly crisped fried chicken, and sizzling rice bowls are the quintessential Korean dishes you’ll find in family-owned restaurants that dot the U.S., from New York to Los Angeles. These iconic dishes are worth seeking out, though they are just a gateway to the expansive range of recipes that make up traditional Korean cuisine.

Heartier and bolder than neighboring Chinese and Japanese cuisines, some say, Korean food is packed with distinctive flavors that include spicy, sweet, salty, and fermented notes. The cuisine is savored for its diverse ingredients and a seemingly modern—though thoroughly ancient—approach that emphasizes seasonality and resourcefulness above all.

“It is so much broader and deeper than Korean barbecue and kimchi,” says Ann Chung, CEO and co-founder of Korean Delights, producer of We Rub You Korean sauces. “And the cuisine has really penetrated the restaurant scene.”

Second-generation Korean-Americans are the driving force behind the emerging trend, says Chung. David Chang’s Momofuku empire leads as a global ... Continue Reading

Indonesia’s Exotic Flavors

Indonesia’s Exotic Flavors

The impact of this republic’s culinary heritage can be best found in the U.S. through its exports of rice, artisanal sugar, coconuts, and other products.

By Julie Besonen

This Southeast Asian archipelago of volcano-studded islands has an emerging wealth of high-quality raw materials, from coffee and cacao to coconuts, sugar, and rice. But even with that bounty, the low number of Indonesians in the U.S. and scarcity of Indonesian restaurants and specialty food products—compared with other Southeast Asian countries—means the cuisine is mostly a mystery here.

Now on the verge of discovery, Indonesian food does have American fans, who tend to be vocal converts. A survey conducted by CNN Travel had readers choosing rendang—an Indonesia beef dish often made with banana peppers, lemongrass, and coconut milk—as the most delicious food in the world.

Kopi Luwak, Indonesia’s Unusual Coffee Beans

Kopi luwak is a form of coffee bean processing based on gathering the droppings of civets, cat-like mammals native to Indonesia, and is one of the priciest in the world, costing upwards of $300 a pound. Civets, unable to digest the beans of the coffee berries that they enjoy snacking on, impart musky ... Continue Reading

Turkey’s Street Food

Turkey’s Street Food

A historical merging of cultures and culinary traditions, Turkey—and its star city, Istanbul—offers a compendium of traditional street food. Already enjoyed stateside for its healthful and flavorful qualities, Turkish cuisine is just getting started on its American immersion.

By Julie Besonen

Istanbul attracted more than 10 million visitors last year, which translates to a lot of people getting a taste of Turkish cuisine. Its fresh, healthful approach makes it poised to become a bigger star on the global stage. A legacy of the multicultural, multilingual Ottoman Empire, the stimulating fusion of several cuisines, cultures, and flavors make up a vibrant street food scene.

A Slice of Istanbul

Known for centuries as a strategic stop along the Silk Road, Istanbul is celebrated for its street food and meze, a melting pot of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Balkan, and Central Asian flavors. “It’s one of the most complex cuisines in the world,” says food and travel writer Jay Cheshes, who has reported on Istanbul’s culinary scene for The Wall Street Journal. Street food is a main attraction, he says, “each stall or cart focused on one particular item.”

What you’ll find among such vendors is spice-dusted, char-grilled lamb ... Continue Reading

Slice of Life: Sarabeth’s Bakery

Slice of Life: Sarabeth’s Bakery

This 16-year-old bakery, in a bustling New York City market, feeds a handful of restaurants and a steady line of local patrons. Sarabeth Levine, an energetic septuagenarian, continues to gain speed, just like the brand that has borne her name for 30 years.

By Nicole Potenza Denis

Photos by Eva Meszaros

Chelsea Market, one of Manhattan’s trendiest food-centric destinations, has been home to Sarabeth Levine’s 4,400-square-foot wholesale and retail bakery since 1998. Reminiscent of her original bakery cafe, it pumps out a repertoire of baked goods—from muffins and bread to cheese straws and creme brulee—for all Sarabeth’s restaurants in New York City and a handful of wholesale clients such as online retailer Fresh Direct, whose orders can consist of 20 cases of scones and 20 cases of biscuits. Amid the foodservice activity, Sarabeth’s serves breakfast and lunch items to a steady line of market-goers, fulfills mail-order catalog requests, and caters the occasional last-minute lunch for some of the businesses located in the building.

Specialty Food Magazine visited Sarabeth’s Bakery in Chelsea Market to witness firsthand a typical day at the bustling bakery.

Morning ritual in a nutshell

Levine takes five seconds to ... Continue Reading

The Ups and Downs of Going Local

The Ups and Downs of Going Local

Does featuring locally sourced ingredients on your shelves and menus drive business? Or does it just increase costs and cause other business challenges? Restaurateurs and retailers share their experience with the benefits and obstacles of keeping it close to home.

By Robyn Pforr Ryan

Chef Jake Des Vignes and his business partner Yaron Milgrom are used to challenges. The pair has founded two successful restaurants in San Francisco’s Mission district—Local Mission Eatery and seafood-focused Local’s Corner—where their love of food and commitment to serving locally sourced ingredients are inextricably intertwined.

Still, they are facing a steeper climb with their newest venture, Local Mission Market, an all-local shop. The 2,700-square-foot market sells naturally grown produce from Northern California, sustainably caught wild fish, and all-natural, grass-fed beef from cattle raised by cowboys on horseback. Its kitchen staff makes pasta, sauces, pickles, sausages, fresh cheeses, bread, and pastries in-house, down to the packaging and labeling.

“The reaction has been mixed,” says Des Vignes. “There’s a lot of traffic, but people aren’t used to this kind of grocery store. There is not this massive bounty of produce people are used to seeing. There are no bananas, no ... Continue Reading

Paula Lambert, Mozzarella Company: Pioneering Fresh Cheese in Texas

Paula Lambert, Mozzarella Company: Pioneering Fresh Cheese in Texas

After spending several years in Italy, Paula Lambert returned to her home state to create a food business—and succeeded beyond all expectations.

By Colleen Curtis

When Paula Lambert first started Mozz-arella Company in Dallas, more than 30 years ago, the notion of purchasing ingredients from an artisanal supplier would have had chefs and other food professionals scratching their heads.

“The Mansion on Turtle Creek had just opened,” she recalls. “They had the best restaurant in town and they had employed the 21 Club to run it. They were here from New York, running this restaurant in an elegant mansion that housed a boutique hotel, and they put mozzarella and tomato salad on the menu. But they were using Kraft block mozzarella, slicing it very thinly and folding it ‘artistically.’ That was fine cuisine in Dallas in the early ’80s.”

It was amid that dining scene that Lambert decided she wanted to open a business, she says, selling something that celebrated the foods she had grown to love during the five years she spent living in Italy after graduating college. What, she thought, was a staple in Italian culture but not available in Dallas? The answer came quickly: fresh mozzarella ... Continue Reading

Whole Foods Hits the Airwaves

“Dark Rye,” a new TV program based on a Whole Foods Market online magazine, has hit the airwaves on recently launched network Pivot TV, hoping to reach its target millennial audience. Exploring food and health, the first season, which debuted in January, covers topics ranging from entrepreneurs rebuilding Detroit to culinary masters maintaining sustainable food traditions.—D.S.

More Trends & Happenings from the Spring 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Charlie Trotter’s Legacy Lives On

The loss of legendary chef Charlie Trotter last year left the culinary world in mourning. This year, his widow, Rochelle Smith Trotter, carries on his memory and a closely held goal with plans to create a memorial library showcasing his personal collection and the Center for Excellence, an education center. Planned to be a learning institution, not a cooking school, it will focus on seminars and lectures for at-risk youths interested in the culinary field and will be built around the late chef’s lessons on service and leadership.

To make this dream a reality, the Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation, founded by Trotter in 1999 to award scholarships to youth who have a passion for cooking and food, has begun a year-long fundraising campaign with the help of leading culinary figures who will host events. The move will culminate with a gala celebration in November in Chicago. Smith Trotter also hopes to publish a tribute book by year’s end.—D.S.

More Trends & Happenings from the Spring 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Snack Bars Step Up in Foodservice

Snack Bars Step Up in Foodservice

Packed with local and non-GMO ingredients and certified organic, today’s snack bars are becoming a go-to meal replacement choice across foodservice outlets. Their double-digit growth in 2013 is thanks in part to their convenience, portability, and often healthful appeal. Total dollar volume of snack bars shipped through foodservice distributors to foodservice outlets grew 15 percent in the year ending November 2013, compared with the year before, reports market research firm NPD Group. Sales were highest at lodging establishments, which represent the heftiest share of the category’s dollar sales, with a 28 percent 12-month increase. Sales of bars shipped to eating and drinking establishments, non-commercial channels, and retail foodservice increased by double-digits as well. Cereal bars, which represent the largest dollar volume share of snack bar types, garnered a double-digit gain, as did granola and diet/health snack bars.—D.S.

More Trends & Happenings from the Spring 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Chicken Ranks

Chicken Ranks

For the first time in more than a century, Americans are eating more chicken than beef. Per capita, chicken consumption in the U.S. has risen from less than 20 pounds in 1909 to about 60 pounds in 2012. Main drivers include price, ease of preparation, and a healthier profile. Plus the poultry has raised its gourmet profile. According to restaurant consultant Baum & Whiteman, establishments elevating poultry include Rôtisserie Georgette, an upscale chicken-focused eatery in New York City, and Boston’s Craigie on Main, where $74 gets you a roast chicken for two cooked sous vide in chicken fat and spices.—D.S.

More Trends & Happenings from the Spring 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Dining with a Conscience

Restaurants are making sustainability and social responsibility a key element of their businesses, according to a study by Technomic. Whether sourcing organic ingredients and free-range chicken like Pizza Fusion in Tampa does, or helping disadvantaged youth and the homeless get to work as with FareStart Restaurant in Seattle, restaurants have good reason to join the movement, beyond a happy conscience: 63 percent of operators and diners say they’re more likely to visit a foodservice operation they view as socially conscious, particularly those that address humane treatment of animals, conservation, and local community involvement.

Across all foodservice segments, operators expressed strong commitment to these initiatives for the positive impact on environment, company reputation, and food and beverage quality. And more than half say that having a social responsibility strategy will be necessary to remain competitive in the next two years. The biggest obstacle: higher costs associated with some initiatives.—D.S.

More Trends & Happenings from the Spring 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Beyond Early Bird Specials

Beyond Early Bird Specials

Don’t underestimate seniors. While those under 50 are pulling back, older consumers are enjoying their sunset years dining out, reports market research firm NPD Group. Baby boomers and senior diners alike are expected to increase their spending at restaurants in 2014. Why? This segment has been less affected by prolonged high unemployment and the recession. They continue to visit restaurants at an ever-increasing rate. Zoning in on their dining preferences—which may differ from much-watched millennials—stands to boost a restaurant’s bottom line.—D.S.

More Trends & Happenings from the Spring 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Industry Voices: Weighing In on the Farm Bill

Industry Voices: Weighing In on the Farm Bill

Following approval of the Farm Bill in February, members of the specialty food trade shared their reactions and thoughts on what the new law, expected to save about $16.6 billion over the next 10 years, means for the industry. Fundamental changes to both nutrition and farm programs raised questions and sparked conversation around the country—especially cuts to the food stamp program that would affect more than 850,000 households that will lose about $90 in monthly benefits.—N.P.D.

Here’s what some industry professionals had to say:

“We use funds from the food export program, which is funded through the farm bill. Having funding from food export makes a huge difference for us in our ability to meet buyers and get orders overseas. We were very glad to see this bill finally pass.”—Jonathan Milo Leal, founder and owner, Vino de Milo, Athens, OH

“The Farm Bill usually does not have too much of a direct effect on my business. Usually its biggest effect is how it tinkers with grain production and pricing through direct subsidies to those farmers and crop insurance. The lower grains are priced, the better it is for most producing industries.”—Doug ... Continue Reading

Jerky Goes Gourmet

Jerky Goes Gourmet

No longer an ordinary roadside snack packed with preservatives, jerky has evolved, making a statement at the Winter Fancy Food Show with cutting-edge flavors and high-quality meats. Take Three Jerks Original Filet Mignon Beef Jerky and Krave Jerky’s pork, beef, and turkey offerings in such flavors as black cherry barbecue pork and basil citrus turkey. Using grass-fed beef is all the rage for producers like Kings County Jerky and Slant Shack, the latter of which sources exclusively from Vermont Highland Cattle Co. Exotic protein sources offer an elegant take to draw new customers: Black Tiger boasts ahi tuna jerky, buffalo jerky, and venison whiskey jerky. Even Vosges Chocolate has gotten in on the movement with its new “The Hunger Games” branded Wild Ophelia beef jerky and smoked mesquite milk chocolate bar, putting the meat snack nearly on a par with bacon mania.—D.S.

More Trends & Happenings from the Spring 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

The Numbers Behind Our Industry

The Numbers Behind Our Industry

The specialty food trade again reports healthy sales growth, according to the “State of the Specialty Food Industry 2014” report, compiled by the Specialty Food Association and Mintel International. Dollar sales for retail and foodservice grew 18.4 percent, our annual report reveals.

Hitting $88.3 billion in 2013, the industry has been driven by large categories such as Cheese and Cheese Alternatives; Chips, Pretzels, and Snacks; and Yogurt and Kefir. Among the fastest-growing categories are Nut and Seed Butters; Eggs; Frozen Desserts; Refrigerated Condiments; and Ready-to-Drink Tea and Coffee.

Sales in specialty food stores and natural markets skyrocketed by 42.4 percent and 33.8 percent, respectively, between 2011 and 2013. Mainstream supermarket sales growth was more sluggish comparatively, at 6.9 percent.

Here are some more highlights from this year’s report:

  • Lackluster growth in mainstream supermarkets impacted specialty food unit sales. Unit sales in specialty and natural retail channels, however, were much healthier: 21.1 percent and 23.2 percent, respectively.
  • Latin and Mediterranean foods are named among the top emerging cuisines by importers and retailers. Indian, African, and Korean cuisines are also gaining attention.
  • Distributors are highly optimistic that non-GMO claims will draw consumer attention; 86 ... Continue Reading
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